Philco began in 1906 making batteries for electric vehicles. Philco built many iconic radios and TV sets, including the classic cathedral-shaped wooden radio of the 1930s, and the very futuristic (in a 1950s sort of way) Predicta series of television receivers. Philco began making radios in 1926 , car radios in 1930 and later expanded into other areas including refrigeration, air conditioners, home entertainment products, automotive electronic controls, aerospace tracking systems and artificial satellites. In 1960, NASA contracted Philco to build the world-wide tracking station network for Project Mercury, and all subsequent Man-In-Space projects until the ground station network was replaced by the TDRS communication satellites in the 1990s.
Acquired by Ford Motor Company on December 11, 1961 and renamed Philco-Ford, it continued to make many car radios for Ford vehicles as well as its other products. Eventually, the name was abandoned. The company was acquired by Philips in 1981 in order to gain the rights to use the Philips trademark in the United States. (Philco had been able to keep Philips from using its trademark legally because of the similarly sounding names.) Philips continues to use the Philco name for promotional consumer electronics and has licensed the name for private brands and retro style consumer electronics. Philips also is using the Philco brand name for digital converter boxes for analog TVs in the USA. The Philco brand in this case is being licensed by Philips to Funai, who is manufacturing these boxes.
In 1962, the Philco 2000 Model 212 computer was chosen for use in the North American Aerospace Defense Command's famous Cheyenne Mountain facility. Three of the machines were installed that year and ran until 1980. The machines were also used by research labs at Westinghouse Electric and General Electric. The Philco S-2000 Transac was the first solid state computer. It used discrete transistors instead of vacuum tubes, the integrated circuit not yet having been invented..
In Brazil, Philco (then Philco-Hitachi) was acquired in 1989 by Itautec, becoming Itautec-Philco and in August 2005 Itautec sold Philco to Gradiente. In August 2007, Gradiente sold the brand to a group of investors, who intended to license the brand to Brazilian appliance maker Britânia.
In 2003, the Merloni Group acquired rights to the Philco brand (from Philco International) for use in Italy The Italian Philco produces household appliances in affiliation with Bendix and Thorn EMI Moyor Electronics (e.g. Bendix 71258 1000 automatic washing machine 1986). As of 2006, the company is mainly recognised in Australia.
In Argentina, in March 2004, Philco was acquired by a group of Argentine investors. The presence of Philco in Argentina dates since 1930 (see Infamous Decade), remains a traditional mark of appliances in this country. It currently manufactures refrigerators and white line products by Philco Argentina S.A. and Helametal Catamarca S.A. Argentina